Clergy, religious organizations and advocates mobilize to help immigrants facing deportation

The following is an excerpt from originally published February 17, 2017.

The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, a gubernatorial candidate for the Green Party in New Jersey and pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, said he knows of hundreds of people in situations just like Guerrero’s who have been successfully checking in with immigration officials. This year, he said, it’s different, with many fearing their next check-in dates.

“We are looking to support those people who have final deportation orders and have not been convicted of a major crime,’’ said Kaper-Dale, who is among the clergy leading efforts in his community. “We want to be supportive of them.”

An immigrant and refugee advocate, Kaper-Dale in 2012 gave shelter at his church to nine Indonesian immigrants at risk of deportation. The church converted Sunday school classrooms into bedrooms and installed showers. The immigrants lived at the church for nine months.

“We are ready now to offer physical sanctuary,’’ said Kaper-Dale, who has also helped resettle recently arrived refugees.

Kaper-Dale said he has talked to town officials in Highland Park about possibly allowing “Nixle Alerts,” which notify local people of emergencies, to also include information about ICE activity in the area. He said that if ICE officials are spotted in town, an alert would go out to residents.

He said his church would also have teams of volunteers on call and available to help people who have had a family member detained or deported.